Health Care in Global Context: Service Learning to Increase Cultural Competency in Migrant Latino Health

Tuesday, 10 November 2015: 8:50 AM

Jean Ann Davison, DNP, RN, FNP-BC
School of Nursing and School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA



Purpose: To describe a seven year interprofessional service learning course to increase students’ understanding of migrant Latino health. When training health care providers, the service-learning approach is an innovative pedagogical strategy that benefits both patients and students by creating collaborative partnerships among health professions schools, healthcare organizations and other community settings.

 Background:  According to the 2010 US Census report, the Hispanic/Latino population accounted for over half of the 27.3 million increase in the total US population.  The US Department of Health and Human Services have set forth national standards on culturally and linguistically appropriate services (CLAS) for health care organizations and providers to deliver culturally competent care; intended to advance health equity, improve quality and help eliminate health disparities.

Present United States Latino health disparities include-

  • Latino/Hispanic adults have the largest age-adjusted prevalence of diabetes.
  • Prevalence of obesity is largest for young Latino males < 20 years old.
  • Hispanic children are twice as likely to be hospitalized for asthma.

As educators, we should provide opportunities for students to experience interprofessional culturally competent health care.  One way to do this is to provide service learning opportunities.

Description of Program: Part of our vision as a university is to increase inter-professional education, cultural competency and cultivate sustainable, long-term collaborations globally. This course offers a unique opportunity for an inter-professional team of students to learn experientially about the health needs of Latino immigrants. This course focuses on social justice and the need to work collaboratively by offering service learning opportunities both domestically and internationally within the local Latino community and abroad with Central America agencies.  

 Goals of the course:

At the end of this course the student will be able to:

  1. Explain the relevance of culturally competent global health approaches to health assessment and interventions at home and abroad.
  2. Identify factors affecting global health and Latino/Hispanic immigration to include travel, cultural, social, economic, political and environmental factors.
  3. Understand and report Latino population health disparities, using epidemiological and demographic measures.
  4. Identify evidence-based, cultural competency programs to improve Latino population-global health.
  5. Apply ethical principles to global health and humanitarian aid.
  6. Practice culturally-competent care through participatory service-learning
  7. Effectively present and educate the public on global migrant health issues.
  8. Be able to meet with Latino community agency leaders and stake holders to forge community partnerships, both locally and globally.

 Teaching methods

Preparation for humanitarian assistance:

  • Brief presentation by guest speakers on immigration and Latino health to provide current and relevant information to students along with agencies representatives who provide background on the services they provide.
  • Inter-professional team based learning activities such as presentations around their professional training in providing care to Latino children and families.  
  • Directed study reading of Sonia Nazario’s Enrique’s Journey: The Story of a Boy’s Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with His Mother along with articles on both sides of the immigration debate prior to their service learning experience to discuss these issues in small groups and relate this to their current practice sites.
  • Experiential service-learning activities per contract agreement with opportunities for work with local community agencies and/or spring break opportunities in Central America:

Results: This global service learning course helps students increase their cultural competency, understanding of health disparities and models for providing humanitarian aid.